Here is the thing — he wanted to shock people into thinking, not give them answers.

Mea culpa. Its nearly midnight, I’m more than a bit tipsy, and I made the “mistake” of reading one of Sarah’s posts. All was well and good until I read that line. And then my deluded, alcohol soaked brain was inspired to attempt to think. The rusty gears of my logical forebrain began grinding against the drive train of my reptilian hindbrain and produced a spark which sent my neurons to a firing.

From the beginning the Puppies have been asked “what is it you are so against?” and despite valiant attempts from all concerned none have yet to elucidate a definitive answer. And now, perhaps because I am in fact drunk as a skunk, perhaps because Sarah has manged to jostle my grey matter in just the right way to jump-start my dendrions, and perhaps because I am just arrogant enough to believe I have the answer I believe that I can explain it. The answer is simple.

Good fiction does not give you answers, good fiction asks you questions. And this is the difference between puppy-friendly sci-fi, and anti-puppy sci-fi.

“Starship Troopers” did not tell you that a military republic made a better society than a constitutional republic, it asked you to decide whether it did or not. “Stranger in a strange land” did not tell you whether a free love world was better than a traditional marriage world, it invited you to ask whether or not it was so. “The last question” did not state that the end-game of technological progress was the creation of a new god, it encouraged you to wonder whether or not it could. Clarke’s third law does not ( no matter how many people think it does) state that “any sufficiently advanced technology  is indistinguishable from magic” IT ASKS YOU HOW YOU COULD TELL THE DIFFERENCE!

That is the difference between message fiction and speculative fiction. Message fiction is so insecure, not only in itself but in YOU, that it has to spell out the answer. Speculative fiction trusts both itself and YOU to ask you a question.

Do the ends justify the means? Do androids dream of electronic sheep? Can a galactic empire rise without falling? Does R. Daneel Olivaw have a soul or not? Was Deckard a replicant?

And the most important question of all CAN YOU DECIDE FOR YOURSELF, OR DO YOU NEED ME TO GIVE YOU THE ANSWER?

Heinlein knew the answer, so did Asimov, and Clarke, and all the other greats of science fiction. Lesser lights like Hubbard thought they knew, and assumed that you didn’t.

So I guess my question is; what is your answer?

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